What is an electronic trade opportunity (ETO)?
An ETO, much like the name suggests, is a record of an
offer to sell, buy or to do business (i.e. an opportunity
to trade), that has been stored in an electronic database
that is normally made available online (i.e. over the
web). Potential business partners can then browse or search
through and respond to these ETOs. In other words, it
is a way of facilitating trade between geographically
dispersed companies. The term ‘ETO’ was probably
first used by the United Nations in the development of
the UNCTAD ETO system – see below.
The WTPF ETO system
Perhaps the best example of an ETO system is the one
run by the World Trade Point Federation (WTPF). The WTPF
grew out of an innovative programme of the United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which aimed
to help SMEs trade with one another globally. The WTPF
has strived to enhance this programme by establishing
Trade Points (trade promotion offices) in more than 70
countries that try to help SMEs in their local areas of
operation. One of the services they offer is to enable
any firm to lodge (or post) an ETO which is then publish
on the WTPF site for other companies around the world
to see. Any company interested in a particular ETO can
respond to the original firm that posted the ETO expressing
their interest in doing business.
The WTPF system is free-of-charge, although users do
have to register to use the system. However, registering
on the system has several advantages associated with it
such as access to the Trade Alert System which informs
you about ETOs matching your specific needs and interests.
Using this system, exporters can post offers to buy and
sell goods, search for trading opportunities and perform
trade leads matching. Some of the facilities/benefits
of the Trade Point ETO system include:
- Daily global advertising for your company through
the listing of your company profile and contact data
on a global portal, visited by a wide range of potential
- Hot link to your company's website
- Availability of an advanced search engine on the portal
allowing easy identification of your company by potential
- Association with a world-wide trade lead network covering
over 70 countries
here to learn more about the WTPF.
What are the benefits of using ETO systems?
As an exporter, the main benefits of using an ETO system
- Increasing your marketing reach – your
products will be seen by tens of thousands of potential
customers from around the world.
- ETO systems are also ideal for disposing of excess,
end-of-line or otherwise unwanted goods – But
you need to ensure that you inform buyers of the status
of your goods.
- You can market your products 24/7 – The
ETO system is always accessible to potential customers,
even if you are sleeping.
- The cost is normally quite low – You
are not likely to get information about your products
out to a global audience this cheaply, especially if
you are doing the marketing and selling yourself.
- ETO systems facilitate immediate and easy response
by potential buyers – The buyer can visit
your website or fire off an enquiry to you which you
can respond to. Not all enquiries lead to sales, naturally;
but the ease of use of ETO systems does increase the
potential for generating business.
- Pre-qualified buyers – Some
ETO systems require buyers to indicate what they products
they are interested in and in so doing, the system
is able to better match offers to buyers.
- ETO systems can be used to gather market intelligence – Just
by browsing though ETO systems, you can see what similar
products to your own are available for sale and from
where. Sometimes, prices may even be indicated on the
system, thereby enabling you to make more informed decisions
about the products you export and the pricing thereof.
Are there any other ETO systems?
Yes, actually, there quite a few such
systems available. But before we tell you more, it is
important that you understand some of the terminology
used. While the UN started out with the term ‘electronic trade opportunity’ (or
ETO) system, it has become more common to refer to these
trading systems as ‘trading hubs’ or ‘electronic
marketplaces’ or ‘trade (enquiry) bulletin
boards’ or even ‘market exchanges’ (other
similar phrases are also sometimes used). All of these
phrases essentially still refer to an electronic environment
(usually a database system) where buyers (importers) and
sellers (exporters) can post a notice of their interest
in doing business (trading) with other companies.
There are many such systems available today. ExportHelp
has done extensive research to identify many of these
electronic marketplaces. Click here to access our
list of electronic marketplaces.